Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Sunday 29 November |
Saint of the Day: Bl. Bernardo Francisco de Hoyos
home iconLifestyle
line break icon

Hepatitis Remains a Vicious and Frequent Killer in India

Zoriah Miller

Fr. Tomi Thomas - UCAnews - published on 08/02/13

Widespread ignorance and inaction fails to prevent the spread of Hepatitis in India, despite the disease killing an average of 1,700 people a day in India.

Each day in India an average of at least 1,700 people die of hepatitis, making it the disease that kills more people in India than any other disease. And yet, widespread ignorance and inaction fail to prevent the spread of this liver infection that annually kills some 640,000 people, just with two of its varieties: Hepatitis B and C.

Despite the death rates being so high, most people who carry the virus are unaware of their infection and are at risk of developing chronic liver disease, which has no cure. Moreover, they may also unknowingly transmit the virus to other people. Creating awareness is the primary step.

Aiming to create awareness, a global forum called World Hepatitis Alliance instituted World Hepatitis Day in 2008 along with the World Health Organization (WHO), and has been observed annually since then on July 28. "This is hepatitis. Know it. Confront it" was the theme this year, a theme it has continued since 2010.

Hepatitis is an infection of the liver caused by any of half a dozen viruses — A, B, C, D, E, or G. It is a global problem with 66 percent of all the world's population living in areas where there are high levels of infection. Hepatitis B and C are the most common causes of liver cirrhosis and cancer.

Blood transfusions are one of the mediums for the spread of disease.  Unsafe injections, tattooing and sexual contact also cause its spread.  Newborns are at risk of infection from mothers if no medical precautions are taken.

WHO estimates that viral hepatitis kills close to 1.4 million globally. Close to 1 million of those deaths happen in the Asia-Pacific region, and reportedly death rates are on the rise. Some 350 million people in the world live with hepatitis B, and 170 million with hepatitis C. Millions have chronic infection, millions are at risk, millions carry the virus and millions succumb to the infection.  And yet, we see not much governmental action on its prevention.

Reining in hepatitis has to be done on a war footing, as it will put a heavy strain on the gravely over-burdened health care delivery system. The infection is costing billions of dollars in lost productivity. Poor and developing countries, especially in Asia and Africa, bear the brunt of it.

Along with curative measures, educative efforts need to be emphasized simultaneously. Any amount of clinical and diagnostic intervention alone will not succeed in controlling the problem. Education about the disease is an essential primary step.

Centering on a community approach, the Catholic Health Association of India (CHAI), has been focusing on communicable or infectious diseases right from its inception in 1943.

The organization with its network of 3,410 member institutions has been reaching out to people at the grassroots level, through its thousands of auxiliary nurse midwives, non-governmental organizations, community based organizations, accredited social health activists and self-help groups carrying information on various communicable diseases including HIV/AIDS and non-communicable diseases like diabetes. 

More networking and awareness campaigns are needed to check the spread of the disease.

Father Tomi Thomas is a member of the Indian Missionary Society and director-general of the Catholic Health Association of India,  a network of Catholic health facilities.

Originally published at UCA News on 1 August 2013.

Tags:
DeathIndia
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in eight languages: English, French, Arabic, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
LUXOR FILM FESTIVAL
Zoe Romanowsky
20-year-old filmmaker wins award for powerful...
Eric Clapton, Luciano Pavarotti, East London Gospel Choir
J-P Mauro
Hear Clapton and Pavarotti sing a prayer to t...
FIRST CENTURY HOUSE AT THE SISTERS OF NAZARETH SITE
John Burger
British archaeologist confident he has found ...
PRAY
Cerith Gardiner
12 Things we can be grateful for this Thanksg...
EARTHQUAKE
Bret Thoman, OFS
Two earthquakes couldn't stop these Italian n...
CATHEDRAL OF THE SACRED HEART
Fr. Patrick Briscoe, OP
6 Questions to determine if your heart is har...
VATICAN POPE GOOD FRIDAY COLOSSEUM
Kathleen N. Hattrup
Learn to pray with the early Church and to di...
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.